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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Six - Stages in Meditation
Contemplation has been also defined by Evelyn Underhill in her most useful book, Mysticism, as the "lull between two activities." During this lull a new method of knowing and of being is instituted. This is perhaps one of the simplest and the most practical ways of understanding contemplation. It is the interlude wherein the soul is active. This soul activity is preceded by what we might call an upward activity. The physical brain has been quieted and held steady; the feeling or sensory apparatus has also been stilled and is no longer permitted to register information from its usual field of awareness; the mind has been focused and held actively passive in the light which streams from the kingdom of the [142] soul. We refuse the passage of any information from the world of ordinary phenomena. This has been brought about through right concentration and meditation. This achieved, there ensues the interlude wherein the man knows himself to be a soul, dwelling in the eternal and freed from the limitations of form. This interlude is necessarily brief at first but as progress in control develops, it lengthens. The key to the whole process is the sustained concentration and attention of the mind "whilst the soul, the spiritual man, the perceiving being, contemplates."

In a former book I have dealt more fully with this use of the mind as the instrument of the soul, and will repeat one paragraph here:

"It should be made clear, however, that the perceiver on his own plane has always been aware of that which is now recognized. The difference lies in the fact that the instrument, the mind, is now in a state of control. It is, therefore, possible for the thinker to impress the brain, via the controlled mind, with that which is perceived. Man on the physical plane simultaneously also perceives, and true meditation and contemplation for the first time become possible. At first this will only be for a brief second. A flash of intuitive perception, a moment of vision and of illumination and all has gone. The mind begins again to modify itself and is thrown into activity, the vision is lost sight of, the high moment has passed, and the door into the soul-realm seems suddenly to shut. But assurance has been gained; a glimpse of reality has been registered on the brain and the guarantee of future achievement is recognized."
- Bailey, Alice, The Light of the Soul, III, 9. [143]

The second activity concerns itself with a dual work carried on by the mind. Having been held steady in the light, it now records and registers the ideas, impressions and concepts imparted to it by the contemplating soul, formulating them into phrases and sentences, building them into thought forms and constructing clear mental images. It is for this that the need of a good mental apparatus will become apparent. A trained mind and a well-stocked memory and a carefully cultured mentality will greatly facilitate the work of the soul in gaining a right record and an accurate registering of its knowledge. Then, following upon this mental activity, will ensue a process of transmitting the gained information to the waiting quiescent brain.

When the soul has learned to handle its instrument, through the medium of the mind and the brain, direct contact and interplay between the two becomes increasingly possible and steady, so that a man at will can focus his mind upon earthly affairs and be an efficient member of society, or upon heavenly things and function in his true being as a son of God. When this is the case, the soul utilizes the mind as a transmitting agent and the physical brain is trained to be responsive to that which is transmitted. The true son of God can live in two worlds at once; He is a citizen of the world and of the Kingdom of God. I cannot do better than close this chapter with some words of Evelyn Underhill:

"The full spiritual consciousness of the true mystic is developed not in one but in two apparently opposite but [144] really complementary directions... On the one hand he is intensely aware of, and knows himself to be at one with that active world of becoming... Hence though he has broken forever with the bondage of the senses, he perceives in every manifestation of life a sacramental meaning; a loveliness, a wonder, a heightened significance which is hidden from other men... On the other hand, the full mystic consciousness also attains to what is, I think, its really characteristic quality. It develops the power of apprehending the Absolute, Pure Being, the utterly Transcendent... This all-round expansion of consciousness, with its dual power of knowing by communion the temporal and eternal, immanent and transcendent aspects of reality... is the peculiar mark, the ultimo sigillo of the great mystic..."
- Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism, pages 42-43.

The results of this dual activity and facility of interplay we will consider next. The intuition begins to function; illumination is experienced, and the life of inspiration, with its many special characteristics must be studied, and this we will attempt in our next chapter. [147]

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